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Toward a New Foreign Policy.

The U.S. needs to pursue creative alternatives in order to minimize the potential for civil strife in Yugoslavia and the possible spread of the conflict to neighboring states. It is no easy task to satisfy the demands of the competing nationalisms in the Balkans. Thus far, the U.S. has taken an anti-Serbian stance in all the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. It is time for the U.S. and the Western allies to recognize that compromise with Serbia, rather than ultimatums, is needed to diffuse Balkan tensions. Moreover, given the increased potential for a KFOR-KLA confrontation in Kosovo and serious upheaval in Serbia and Montenegro, U.S. policymakers must act quickly and boldly to prevent further Balkan tragedies.

The U. S. should work toward the convening of a Balkan peace conference under the auspices of the United Nations--and with the participation of all Balkan leaders--to determine the future status of ethnic minorities in the Balkan states. The first task of the conference should be the settlement of the Kosovo issue. Western governments recognized the importance of settling the Kosovo crisis when they formulated the Balkan Stability Pact. Article 4 specifies that "a settlement of the Kosovo conflict is critical to our ability to fully reach the objectives of the stability pact and to work toward permanent, long-term measures for a future of peace and interethnic harmony without fear of the resurgence of war." U.S. policymakers should strive toward this goal through a sustained effort to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table. As violence persists in Kosovo and threatens to erupt in other regions (Montenegro and Macedonia), a diplomatic initiative should be launched before the onset of a new crisis.

Given that the Clinton administration refuses to negotiate directly with Milosevic, the U.S. should enlist the United Nations and Russia as intermediaries to hammer out an agreement with Milosevic regarding the Yugoslav leader's political future. A formula that would include Milosevic's removal from power in exchange for the dropping of the war crimes indictment against him could be part of an overall peace arrangement for the Balkans. In 1995, when the Dayton Peace Accords were negotiated, the U. S. similarly refused to negotiate with the Bosnian Serbs and required the removal of Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as a precondition for implementing the accords. Having vowed never again to engage in negotiations with Milosevic, the U.S. now needs to find indirect methods for maintaining communication links with the Yugoslav government. Failure to do so will hinder prospects for stability in the entire region.

The U.S. and NATO allies need to insist that the KLA disband its provisional government. The UN should supervise the establishment of a transitional coalition government that would include representatives from all ethnic communities in Kosovo. Such a government would also replace the local authority established in June 1999, consisting of Albanians and Serbs, which has proven to be ineffectual. In late September 1999, the Serbs resigned from this authority to protest the compromise agreement between the KFOR commander Michael Jackson and the KLA. In this compromise, the KLA has been maintained as a quasi-military force in Kosovo. The U.S. needs to clarify to the KLA that it will no longer tolerate revenge attacks against the Serbian population and will withdraw its support from the Kosovar Albanians should the KLA continue to carve out an independent Kosovo. Washington's support of the establishment of a credible coalition government--including political leaders of all the various ethnic communities-would represent a clear signal that the U.S. is sincerely interested in establishing a multiethnic Kosovo.

Key Points

* The KLA has solidified its control in Kosovo

* Milosevic remains entrenched as the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

* The province of Montenegro is closer than ever to declaring its independence from Yugoslavia

Key Problems

* The U.S. and NATO have looked the other way, as the KLA has essentially seized control in Kosovo.

* The U.S. has ceased negotiations for a peace settlement in the Balkans.

* The U.S. has refused to maintain direct or indirect contacts with Serbia.

Key Recommendations

* A Balkan peace conference should be convened under the auspices of the United Nations.

* A plan should be crafted requiring Milosevic to step down in Yugoslavia in exchange for the dropping of the war crimes indictment against him.

* Washington should toughen its stance toward the KLA and send a clear signal that the U.S. will not tolerate unilateral changes either in boundaries or in the political status of regions and entities such as Kosovo.

RELATED ARTICLE: Estimated Costs of War
Cost of the NATO Bombing: $4 billion(a)

U.S. Share of Bombing Costs: $2.5-3 billion(b)

Cost to Rebuild the Balkans: $20-30 billion(a)

Number of Refugees During
 Bombing: 800,000-1 million(e)

Cost to Return Refugees to
 Kosovo: $442 million(d)

Economic Costs to Six
 Surrounding Countries: $1.25-2.25 billion(e)

Environmental Damage to
 Yugoslavia, excluding Kosovo: $3+ billion(f)

Environmental Cleanup in four
 "Hot Spots" along the Danube: $20 million(g)

Number of Civilians Killed by
 Air Strikes 1,400(h)

(a) William Hartung, "Billions for Bombs; Pennies for Peacekeeping," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September/October, 1999.

(b) Interview with Chris Hellman, Center for Defense Information, October 14, 1999; European Commission.

(c) UNHCR as of June 1999; IMF as of May 1999.

(d) UNHCR Funding Overview 1999 as of 17 November 1999 available at:

(e) International Monetary Fund, The Economic Consequences of the Kosovo Crisis: An Updated Assessment (Washington, DC: IMF, May 25, 1999).

(f) Yugoslav Institute for Environmental Protection, October 1999.

(g) United Nations Environment Program, October 1999.

(h) Assessment of the Environmental Impact of Military Activities During the Yugoslavia Conflict (Hungary: Regional Center for Central and Eastern Europe, June 1999).

Robert Greenberg is an Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
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Author:Greenberg, Robert D.
Publication:Foreign Policy in Focus
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 22, 1999
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